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Alda H. and Elmina T. Wilson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 21/7/24

Scope and Content

This collection (1903-2010, undated) contains biographical information, postcards, sketchbooks and a diary. The biographical information relates to Alda and Elmina, while the postcards and sketchbooks on European architecture, were collected on their trips to Europe. The diary was kept by Alda during her 1903 trip to Europe with Elmina. The collection also contains dozens of blank postcards depicting in photograph and illustration many of the buildings of Europe as they appeared shortly after the turn of the century.


  • 1902-2010, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Elmina T. Wilson was born September 29, 1870 in Harper, Iowa, the daughter of John Chesney and Olive Eaton Wilson. She attended Iowa State earning a B.S. (1892) degree in Civil Engineering and an M.S. (1894). She was the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree at Iowa State. Elmina taught at Iowa State from 1892 to 1904, serving as an Assistant of Civil Engineering (1892-1897); Instructor of Civil Engineering (1898-1902); and as an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering (1902-1904). In 1904 she moved to New York City and accepted a position with the James E. Brooks Company, where she worked for 5 years. She then worked for Purdy and Henderson (1907-1912) and as a structural engineer (1912- ) by John S. Browne. Elmina twice traveled abroad to study engineering and architecture and was also active in the women's suffrage movement. She died on June 2, 1918 after an extended illness.

Alda H. Wilson was born September 20, 1873 in Harper, Iowa, the daughter of John Chesney and Olive Eaton Wilson. She attended Iowa State earning a B.S. (1894) in Civil Engineering. From 1897-1898 she pursued graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alda worked for architectural firms in Chicago (1895-1897, 1898-1903) and New York (1904-1918). She served as the Superintendent of the Women's Drafting Department at the Iowa Highway Commission, now known as the Iowa Department of Transportation, from 1918-1921. From 1928-1947, she was the companion of Carrie Chapman Catt (Iowa State College, 1880), noted woman suffragist. Alda died July 25, 1960.


1.13 Linear Feet (1 document box, 1 half-document box, and 1 card file box)

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 21/7/24. Alda H. and Elmina T. Wilson papers, 1902-2010, undated
January 15, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672